With time quickly running out, it is imperative for Congress to act quickly in finding a permanent health care fix for thousands of retired coal miners who are at risk of losing their benefits.
The continuing resolution passed by lawmakers earlier this year was only a temporary fix. More than 22,600 of the nation’s retired coal miners are now at risk of losing their health care benefits by the end of April without congressional action. The best solution to this looming crisis is the bipartisan Miners Protection Act, a measure backed by the region’s congressional delegation in Washington.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., all sent a letter last week to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Paul Ryan urging the congressional leaders to find a permanent solution for the miners’ benefits in the government funding bill that Congress will consider next week.
The Miners Protection Act honors the promise of health care and retirement benefits to retired miners and their families who are facing great uncertainty, according to the five lawmakers.
In the letter to McConnell and Ryan, the lawmakers wrote, “As Congress considers a continuing resolution to keep the government running, we fully expect that such a vehicle will include the permanent health care fix for our nation’s retired miners as promised at the end of 2016 and proposed in the Miners Protection Act. Anything less is merely an extension of the ongoing uncertainty and agony that these men and women have been carrying for years. Anything less is an unacceptable and tragic failure of this body to keep its word to the men and women who powered our nation to prosperity at the risk of their own health and lives.”
We agree. There needs to be a permanent solution to help ensure that the retired coal miners won’t be continually at risk of losing their health benefits.
Kicking the proverbial can down the road every couple of months creates nothing but additional uncertainty for the retired miners and their families. There needs to be a permanent fix. And the bipartisan Miners Protection Act is the best solution.
Time is of the essence. Congress must act quickly to protect the hard-earned health care benefits and pensions of thousands of retired coal miners.